Extreme weather survival strategies for agriculturally based organisations : a case study of Blinkwater Mills.
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Extreme weather conditions demand extreme weather survival strategies. In recent months, South Africa has been drastically affected by extreme weather conditions exasperated by the presence of the El Niño Southern Oscillating (ENSO) cycle. Countless farmer’s country wide in South Africa were plagued by the drought brought on by ENSO cycle. The long reaching effect of the drought on every day South Africans can still be seen in the ever increasing price of basic foods (National Weather Service, 2016). Given this current situation, the aim of the study was to understand extreme weather survival strategies for agriculturally based organisations. Organisational supply chains can only absorb a certain amount of costs associated with the cultivation, processing, and distribution of goods before those costs inadvertently get passed on to the consumer (Morrehead, 2009). This coupled with inflation, paints a grim future for those South Africans already on the poverty line. Qualitative research was carried out utilising the in-depth telephonic interview as a data collection instrument. The data collected was analysed by identifying patterns, themes, categories and regular similarities in order to highlight the impact and extent of the resilience of Blinkwater Mills to the drought and their willingness to adapt practices. Given the small scale of Blinkwater Mills, 10 respondents participated in the study, of which 2 formed part of the pilot study. There was a 100% response rate. The findings indicated that although South Africa experienced a drought impacting farmers nationwide, Blinkwater Mills averted the full impact of the drought by benefitting from having farmers with irrigated land and numerous suppliers strategically placed throughout the province of Mpumalanga. They were however, not completely exempted from the drought as countless farmers’ yield and quality was affected by the low rainfall. It is therefore recommended that survival strategies be successfully crafted and implemented to address the needs of not only farmers and their immediate supply chain stakeholders but also for the consumers who are dependent upon basic food items. Studies have shown that there is a likelihood of recurrence of this phenomenon which demands that it be taken more seriously (National Weather Service, 2016). As a result, it must be brought to the forefront of government intervention policies when addressing the issue of climate change and its by-product, extreme weather conditions. Therefore, more research must be conducted within a South African context in order to not only bring attention to this crisis but also to identify constructive methods organisations industry wide can adapt as a means of dealing with and combatting the effects of extreme weather conditions.